distinguished themselves in the air flying with the Royal Air
Force and Navy during WWI. Some of that war's greatest allied
aces such as Bishop and Barker were Canadians.
WWII Canada and Canadians again played a pivotal role in
the air war both
in aerial combat and as a vast training ground for allied aircrew
- the Aerodrome of Democracy - as named by US president Roosevelt.
flew with the RAF but also formed their own squadrons and wings
and by D-Day Canadian fighter squadrons flew over the Canadian
beaches while RCAF Typhoon fighter-bomber squadrons destroyed
the panzers moving to counter-attack. RCAF tactical bomber squadrons
pressed home attacks against troop concentrations and railways
behind the lines.
Canadians flying in Bomber Command endured a long, lonely war
of attrition fought in the dark while coastal and transport
command squadrons flew around the globe defeating threats at
sea and supporting the allies on land. Canada's most celebrated
fighter ace won many aerial victories in defence of the beleaguered
island of Malta while others had fought in the Battle of Britain,
with the famous Dambusters and in the heaviest battles of Bomber
the war the air force flew over western Europe as part of NATO's
air defence and over our skies with NORAD squadrons. The air
force continues to support operations around the globe and Canadian
aircrews risk their lives in dangerous search and rescue missions
here in Canada.
Canadian aircrew fell with their aircraft in the massive air
battles that took place over Europe in both world wars. Others
have been lost in peacetime training or in air operations while
saving lives or supporting military missions.
By John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.